Congestion fee proposed by New York mayor

Californians driving toward global warming: Solution? Smarter land use
Carbon tax threatens to ground Asia tourism
Making online maps bike-friendly

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Transport - Apr 22

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


The Smart Jitney: Rapid, Realistic Transport
(12-page PDF)
Pat Murphy, New Solutions from Community Solutions
Plan C, Community Solutions’ response to Peak Oil and climate change, recommends energy conservation alternatives in three categories: buildings, agriculture and transportation. Of the three, transportation is the easiest category to address, but the solution involves changing our value systems and the way we view the world, rather than relying on high risk technology.

For many decades, the problems of transportation have revolved around the issue of private versus public. After World War II the country made transportation via the private car the top priority at the expense of public transportation. This choice is not sustainable. The private car, regardless of its convenience, can no longer serve as the principle mode of people transport. Its high cost, the depleting of fossil fuels, and climate deterioration - along with high rates of deaths and injuries - make it unacceptable. Our choice today is to determine what kind of strategy should be adopted to move the basis of transportation away from the private automobile.

Since Peak Oil could arrive sooner than expected and the depletion rate could be faster than predicted, prudence requires a backup plan other than merely changing car technology. A “Smart Jitney” system could be developed rapidly, and provide for a very sizable (50-75%) reduction of gasoline consumed and greenhouse gases generated by transportation.

It could also be the model for a new and more efficient approach to personal mobility. Ultimately, it could be vital in keeping our economy going by giving people a way to get to and from work if there suddenly was not have enough fuel for private cars.
(April 2007)
Latest paper from Community Solutions, envisioning the post-peak future.


Congestion fee proposed by New York mayor

Maria Newman, International Herald Tribune
Saying that he would not spend his final term in office "pretending that all is fine," Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a series of Earth Day proposals Sunday to improve the environment of New York City, including charging a new congestion fee to drivers who come into parts of Manhattan during peak hours during weekdays.

The $8 congestion fee was one of 127 initiatives included in a sweeping plan by the mayor to help the city of 8.2 million people cope with an expected surge in population that he said was sure to put a strain on its transportation, housing and energy systems.

"Let's face up to the fact that our population growth is putting our city on a collision course with the environment, which itself is growing more unstable and uncertain," the mayor said.

A primary objective is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030, by which time the population is projected to grow by at least a million people, he said.

The proposal that is sure to attract the most attention, and possibly objections, is one to impose the $8 fee on car drivers and $21 for truck operators to drive in Manhattan south of 86th Street.
(22 April 2007)
Also at New York Times. Related story at Christian Science Monitor, "New York City's mayor wants to turn the city green":

Worldwide, New York is known as the Big Apple, but if Mayor Michael Bloomberg gets his way, it will become the Green Apple.

Under his vision for the city, there will be a park within a ten-minute walk of all residents. A million new trees will shade streets and filter out carbon dioxide. Anyone driving on those streets will have to pay extra if it's in congested Manhattan. And there will be new subways and buses, so New Yorkers won't mind taking mass transit.

Those are just some of the changes introduced Sunday, on Earth Day, by Mr. Bloomberg. His goal is to reduce the city's greenhouse-gas emissions 30 percent by 2030. He wants his town to have the cleanest air, the purest water, and the best land-use practices. The mayor's ambitious program of 127 separate initiatives has more than local ramifications, because New York represents 1 percent of total US greenhouse-gas emissions.

Experts in sustainability are enthusiastic about Bloomberg's initiative. They say it's easier to make changes at a metro scale than at a national scale. Plus, cities are where the most waste is produced and the most energy is consumed.

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Californians Driving toward Global Warming: The Solution? Smarter Land Use.

Stuart Cohen and Seth Schneider, WorldChanging
Californians Driving toward Global Warming: The Solution? Smarter Land Use.

In the Bay Area, we drive the equivalent of 300 times to the moon and back each day. It is no wonder that the transportation sector accounts for a staggering 50 percent of all Bay Area greenhouse gas emissions -- which is even higher than California's average of 40 percent.

Fortunately, California is leading the way to improve fuel efficiency and reduce the carbon content of our fuel. The problem is that regulators and legislators often forget the number that drives the equation: 154 million miles of driving in the Bay Area each day.

If we only focus on fuel efficiency and carbon content, as California continues to grow it may add another 10-15 million clean fuel vehicles. And if we continue to use the same suburban design standards for our land use planning, each of these vehicles will demand seven parking spaces (at homes, offices, grocery stores, etc.). So 100 million new parking spaces, or some 300,000 acres, will be paved over in California.

Even worse, we will need to spend our limited transportation dollars on widening our freeways and intersections to accommodate these vehicles, instead of investing in public transit. These vehicles will also threaten children on their way to school, seniors out for a walk, and any of us who walk or bike.

Increased fuel efficiency is necessary, but not enough. We have to get to the source of the problem: our addiction to driving, which is rooted in bad land use planning and auto-oriented communities that are not conducive to walking or bicycling. Building a new coal plant locks us in to dirty energy for 60 years. Building auto-dependent sprawl communities locks us into excessive driving for the next 100 years or more.

We need to show California's regulators and elected leaders that it is possible to reduce driving by combining three strategies: fast, reliable, and affordable transit; walkable, bikable communities that are compact enough to protect our open spaces; and prices for driving and transit that really reflect their true costs, combined with education to get people to try alternatives to automobiles.

Stuart Cohen is Executive Director and Seth Schneider is Communications Director for the Transportation and Land Use Coalition
(21 April 2007)


Carbon tax threatens to ground Asia tourism

Alan Boyd, Asia Times
Asia's US$100 billion international tourism industry is being put in jeopardy by a campaign by European environmentalists to limit air travel, with politicians poised to price long-haul destinations out of the market.

The European Community plans to cap emissions on all aircraft flying out of Europe as part of a carbon-trading scheme that will take effect in 2011. Airlines will have to buy permits for exceeding carbon thresholds, with the cost being passed on to consumers.

In Germany and Britain, where anti-travel sentiment is strongest, would-be travelers are being urged to stay at home, and the issue has found its way onto mainstream political agendas.

British Conservative Party leader David Cameron, who may become his country's next prime minister, says he will allow every Briton one short-haul air trip a year and make any subsequent flights unaffordable: what his party terms "pay-as-you-burn, not pay-as-you-earn".
(19 April 2007)

Making online maps bike-friendly
JMG, Energy Bulletin
Why do online mapping services assume that you're driving? Why don't they let you tell them "I want a bike route" or "I want to use transit."

First and foremost, because we've all been conditioned to accept the view that getting around means "in a car" and that all other modes are "alternative" (read: less than). This includes the geeks providing the mapping services.

Second, because bikers have just rolled over yet again, quietly submitting to mapping services that only help drivers, thus helping perpetuate driving and, thus, environmental destruction.

What should an online mapping service provide? Simple--just like today, it should let you select a starting and ending point. Ideally, it should also let you include intermediate waypoints too, because we all like to combine trips, right?

But the hands down winner is the service that, for each leg of your trip, lets you choose your mode of travel and insert restrictions on the kinds of roads. This way, bikers wouldn't be presented with maps that tell them to use the highways, for example.

So the winning online mapping service would offer you choices of mode like this:

Walking: 1) Walking (shoulders ok) 2) Walking (on streets with sidewalks only) 3) Walking (avoid high speed traffic whenever possible)

Biking: 1) Bike paths whenever possible 2) Avoid high speed traffic whenever possible 3) Bike on bus routes OK, etc.

The point is that the mapping services have spent a gazillion dollars giving us a service that is really only aimed at helping us if we drive.

Now that essentially all of America has been mapped and remapped and digitized, now what's needed is for the geeks to go back and work with pedestrian and bike advocacy groups to encode data about all those roads for each city and town so that, if you want to walk or bike or use transit, the system only "sees" those roads and transit routes, so it never tells you to take your bike on the Capitol Beltway, for example.

The roads should be scored for safety for biking and walking so that you can adjust the route to suit your preferences (like not riding your bike next to a bunch of 18 wheelers, etc.)

Help me make this happen: Write to your online mapping service or visit the suggestion box links below and tell them you want maps that help you with ALL your methods of getting around, not just driving. Maybe include a link to this post.

Let's see which mapping service actually cares enough about being green by seeing which one is first to implement a service that works for non-drivers too.

Here is a contact link for Google Maps that I think might work: --though lord knows they don't make it easy to contact them: gblog@google.com

Mapquest has a reasonably easy-to-find link to their online suggestion box:
help.mapquest.com/jive/mqfeedback.jspa

So let's hit it -- so that, by next Earth Day, there's an online mapping service that tells you how to walk, bike, and use transit to get where you're going.
(22 April 2007)
UPDATE: Now also posted at Gristmill, where a discussion is taking place.

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